President’s Note: Book Review – Collards

president's note collards

Collards: A Southern Tradition from Seed to Table. Davis, Edward H., and John T. Morgan. 2015. University of Alabama Press. 240 p.

I seem to be writing a lot of president’s notes on books I have read. Well, here is another one. I find myself attracted to books which focus heavily on one topic or subject, especially if history is included. This book is one example.

It was published in 2015 and is part of a larger project on preserving heirloom collards. The 2022 Seed Savers Exchange catalog has a two-page writeup on the project. You can also find information about it at heirloomcollards.org.

I want to say right off the bat I have only eaten collards a few times, so don’t consider me a connoisseur. Growing up in Missouri, there are three garden vegetables I always associated with the south: sweet potatoes, okra, and collard greens. Of these three, my parents only grew sweet potatoes one time. I didn’t know anyone who grew okra or collard greens, even though they will grow further north.

I find the book interesting because it delves into the history of collards and explains how it became associated with the south. It is a well-written and -documented work on this one food plant. There are several tables covering consumption and production by state, and one table comparing its nutritional value to other greens.

Maps show where collards are preferred, where seed saving occurs, and where local restaurants serve collards as the main or only cooked greens. Overall, an interesting study on the history of a food plant tied to the southern United States.

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